Quikr Than You Thought: Housing on Distress Sale

HIGH & LOW The dynamic Indian startup scene is likely to see its first blowout because of sloppy leadership, but foreign interest in Indian unicorns is intactClassifieds portal in talks to buy troubled startup whose valuation dips to Rs 1,100 cr from Rs 1,500 cr

Online classifieds portal Quikr is in talks to buy Housing.com in what will amount to distress sale of the real estate listings startup which has lurched from one controversy to another in the past year.According to three people directly aware of the development, the cash and stock deal could be struck at up to `. 1,100 crore ($175 million) depending on the stock-cash split. The details are being worked out. During its last round of funding in November, Housing was val . 1,500 crore ($250 million).ued at ` In that round, SoftBank led a $90million investment in the Mumbai-based company. The Japanese conglomerate is the biggest investor in Housing, and is estimated to have invested $70 million. “Right now the deal is 70% in stock; if the stock amount is over 80% then the valuation can increase to $175 million,“ said one investor in Housing. Representatives of Quikr and SoftBank did not reply to emails seeking comment. In response to a questionnaire from ET, Housing’s outgoing CEO Rahul Yadav wrote, “Joke of the year.“

“There have been talks (with Quikr), but there are other things to get sorted out first,“ said one of the sources, referring to the imminent management overhaul at Housing where Yadav, 26, has resigned as CEO. He cautioned that the deal is yet to reach the final stage of negotiation or financial due diligence. The deal hinges on the outcome of Housing board’s meeting scheduled to be held on Tuesday when investors will seek to remove Yadav as CEO, the source said.

For Quikr, which is one of the eight so-called Indian `unicorns’ with billion-dollar valuations, the addition of Housing will open up a new revenue stream and add a well-known brand to its portfolio.Nearly a dozen investors including Tiger Global, Warburg Pincus, Steadview Capital and Norwest Venture Partners have pumped around $360 million in six funding rounds so far. This includes $150 million it raised in April this year, valuing the startup at over $1 billion. Earlier this year, Quikr founder Pranay Chulet said the company will hire 500 people to beef up its online real estate business, QuikrHomes.com For the investors in Housing, the deal will give them a chance to be a part of a larger business and cut their losses in a company whose fortunes have dwindled rapidly because of a spate of controversies triggered mostly by Yadav. Yadav, who led a dozen college-mates from IIT-Bombay to start Housing in 2012, has had public spats with venture fund Sequoia Capital and disparaged the intellectual worth of investors in his company. He resigned at the end of April, but was asked to stay on by the board which appointed a committee to oversee operations.

“The investors have been looking to exit for some time now -the startup has been making news for all reasons except the market it addresses,“ said a person familiar with the talks.

So far, Housing has raised around $140 million from four investors including SoftBank, Helion Venture Partners and Nexus Venture Partners.As reported by ET last week, Yadav agreed to step down as CEO, with an announcement expected on his departure during the next board meeting on July 1. The agenda of the meeting is to finalise talks with Quikr and come up with a restructured top management and head for Housing.com.

Rahul Yadav owns about 4.57% of Housing.com and at a valuation of about ` . 1,500 crore, his stake is worth ` . 68 crore. The company has over 2,000 employees.

Housing.com currently has an Esop pool of 4%, with the total number of outstanding Housing.com shares standing at 7.15 million. Helion Ventures and Falcon Edge own about 10% each, while SoftBank owns some 32% and Nexus Venture 19%.

Source: The Economic Times



Neeraj; an entrepreneur & a visionary in the field of Railway, Defense & Automobiles, is a graduate in commerce and a Harvard Business School Alumni. He’s an expert in govt. liasoning & contracting and has an exceptional network & connections at both local as well as global level. He’s an expert in Market Strategy & Planning and has served number of overseas companies as an advisor/consultant. He takes a profound interest in upcoming startups & is very receptive towards ground-breaking ideas & innovations. He likes to brainstorm those ideas and if the values & philosophies matches; he is even ready to invest his resources, serve as a mentor or act as an incubator to futuristic businesses.

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